Juston Drake, Jim Bishop,
and Simon Brewer documented three tornadoes, one a violent tornado, which
tore through the City of Moore, OK killing at least 24 people and causing
incredible damage. Some damage caused by the tornado was rated EF5 at the
Briarwood Elementary School only blocks from Juston's home. We later discovered
Juston's house was fortunate, but many of his neighbor's homes were not.
Only a few houses north suffered significant damage from inflow and RFD
winds, and a block north all of the homes are heavily damaged or gone in
the violent tornado path.
Juston, Jim, and I were all
in seperate cars following each other navigating Oklahoma City streets in
heavy traffic as the forward flank of the Moore tornadic supercell rained
on our location. Eventually, we dropped off Juston's car and were able to
gain a visual of the wedge-shaped Moore tornado as it approached I-35 to
the southwest of our location. We reported the tornado's location as it
passed to our southwest and south. We then paralleled the tornado from the
north reporting its position as it transitioned into a stovepipe and roped-out
east of Moore. The tornado was very difficult to see as precip and incredible
amounts of debris surrounded the vortex. We've never before seen so much
debris raining from the sky around a tornado.
We continued to follow the
supercell along I-240 and it produced a brief and weak tornado to our north,
but it appeared to be struggling with cooler stable air near the surface.
We then dropped south and east intercepting several supercells before documenting
a tornado west of the small town of Wapanucka in southern Oklahoma. The
cell responsible for the last tornado of the day became part of a large
MCS, which raged over eastern Oklahoma.
Several days later (May 22)
we had the rare opportunity to perform a brief survey of the Moore OK tornado
damage path. We noted the incredible amount of damage merely from the signicant
inflow jets feeding into the tornado. The more significant region of damage
from Briarwood Elementary to Plaza Towers Elementary School was extraordinary.
Probably the most interesting damage was found to be a displaced segment
of bridge parallel to Interstate 44. This bridge damage is similar to bridge
damage found with the Tuscaloosa AL tornado from April 27, 2011. It is currently
unknown what winds would be needed to cause this type of damage. It would
be very difficult to recreate in a lab environment and can only be estimated
to be high-end winds.
Comparisons have been raised
between this tornado, the great Bridgecreek/Moore tornado of 1999, and the
May 8 2003 Moore/OKC Tornado. The 1999 and 2013 Moore tornadoes were definitely
stronger, more destructive, deadlier, and most likely had significantly
higher winds than the 2003 tornado. The 1999 tornado had a longer damage
path and was most likely at it's maximum intensity near Bridge Creek and
still caused incredible damage to Moore. The 2013 tornado had a wider and
arguably more intense damage path within the Moore City limits. Due to lack
of data it will be impossible to say which tornado was the most intense.
are a few photos from May 20th and damage from the Moore EF5 tornado:
I-240 & Sooner Rd looking SW at massive
wall cloud & debris hiding wedge-shaped Moore OK EF5 Tornado
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